Lion's skull and ivory seized at port

A LION'S skull, pieces of ivory and two shells from a giant clam have been seized by UK Border Agency officers at Felixstowe docks.

Colin Adwent

A LION'S skull, pieces of ivory and two shells from a giant clam have been seized by UK Border Agency officers at Felixstowe docks.

The rare seizures were made as they are parts from endangered species. They were discovered at the port during a search of a container which arrived on a ship from South Africa.

Due to the nature of the items they require export permits from the country of origin and import permits to the European Union in order to be moved from one country to another.

None of the confiscations had any documentation to transport them legally.

Most seizures are destroyed for health and safety reasons. However, as these were all in good condition they will now be used for educational purposes.

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Although no arrests have been made HM Revenue and Customs officers are continuing their investigation.

Lions, elephants and giant clams are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species commonly known as CITES.

The UK along with another 162 countries around the globe has agreed to protect endangered animals and plants from exploitation.

The agreement covers the trade in plants and animals that are alive or dead, and even from products that derive from them.

This includes certain Chinese medicines whose ingredients often contain tiger bone, bear bile and the musk glands from deer.

Although the lion's skull, ivory and giant clam shells were discovered on March 21, they have not been revealed until now as checks were still being made.

Jim Jarvie, from UK Border Agency (UKBA), said: “UKBA along with our colleagues in HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) take the role in enforcing international agreements and prohibitions designed to preserve our natural environment very seriously.

“Anyone tempted to trade in protected creatures and plants should think again. If you have any information on this illegal trade you can ring our 24 hour hotline number on 0800 59 5000."